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Anti-Conversion Law And It's Validity

History of Anti-Conversion Law:

After India got independence, Parliament introduced several anti-reform bills. First bill was introduced in 1954, namely the Indian Amendment Bill (Regulation & Registration), which Sought to enjoy missionary license & registration for the conversion of government officials." Unfortunately the bill failed to gather support in Lok Sabha.

Subsequently in 1960, the Backward Communities & Religious for Protection Bill and in 1979; the Freedom of Religion Bill were introduced to regulate the practice of religious Conversion. These bills have also not been passed by parliament due to lack of political support.

Anti Conversion law is very not topic nowadays, specially since a right-wing government came into power. Several attempts were made by the government to enact a central law on it but failed due to so many reasons. One of it is that the Law & Order comes under a State List. The Central government cannot make laws on it.

What does the term "Anti Conversion" means & Does it prohibit the person to convert from one religion to another? The term "Anti Conversion" refers to preventing or prohibiting the forceful conversion of one religion to another. Basically it means prohibiting religious conversion by force or fraud.

Though the Union gout fails to give a Central law on this issue, the total 8 out of 28 states have law on the same presently. The reason behind it is to prevent the forceful conversion of people from one religion to another, conversion under undue influence, by financial assistance and by the threat to life.

Key Provision / Highlights of Uttar Pradesh Anti Conversion Law:

The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020. ( "Uttar Pradesh Vidhi Virudh Dharma Samparivartan Pratishedh Adhyadhesh, 2020") was enacted on 24 November, 2020 and assented on 28 November, 2020. This law is passes by UP government to tackle unlawful religious conversion & address love jihad, which is described as an alleged conspiracy by Muslim men to convert Hindu women to Islam by wooing and marring them. Basically it prohibit the unlawful conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means.

What is meant by "Allurement"?

'Allurement' means and includes offer of any temptation in the form of:
Any gift, gratification, easy money or material benefit either in cash or kind.

Employment, free education in reputed school run by any religious body, or

Better life style, divine displeasure.

The overall intention of this act is good but some of the provisions of this act seems to be conflicting with fundamental rights of a person provided in the constitution of India. Like provision of sec. 8 i.e. declaration and taking prior approval of conversion before district magistrate or additional district magistrate specially authorized by district magistrate.

The main contention here is why we should take anybody's permission if we are adult while changing our religion. Suppose I am born in religion 'A' but after growing up I believe that I want to follow religion 'B' or religion 'C', then in this case if a notice is to be given, you are inviting trouble.

The main purpose of the government behind the notice is to protect those who want to change their faith for very personal reason such as love, personal choice or any other reason. But here the whole purpose of the government stands fail as giving notice creates more nuisance and trouble. If you are giving a notice, then obviously your family members and neighbours will oppose you and that will create more problems.

Constitutional validity of Anti conversion laws:

The supreme court has very recently in a series of decisions held that right to choose one's partner, the right to decide who to have intimate relation with, whether to live in or merry are a fundamental part of our right to life under article 21 of the constitution. Right to life include right to autonomy, right to liberty and right to make decision most personal to us and that includes right to choose one's partner.

In few cases, especially in Hadiya case, where an adult women had converted to merry the person she wanted, the supreme court held that matters of faith can't be seen as infringing a person's right to choose one's partner and even if a person decided to convert from their faith and even if there is no family or social approval for such choices and conversion.

The right to choose a partner or to merry a partner of own choice is an integral part of person's right to life and personal liberty. The state can't intervene in this choice or take away this choice in any way.

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